Tuesday, March 31, 2009

12 weeks on a trainer

We have been using an indoor trainer since 1 January. We have reached the 12 week point, when physical transformations can be observed.

We conclude this has had a very positive effect on our cycling abilities.

Our vague idea of a training program was 3 or 4 times a week doing a mix of cadence intervals at 110 rpm and 200 watts, and various levels of the rolling hills program in the bike trainer's computer. Both of these required considerable effort. Occasionally we did the long hard hill, where it's long sustained effort. After the effort we always cooled down 10 minutes.

We are ready to enjoy our upcoming non-snowy months.

Starting spring riding - some tips

The Gazette's fitness uberguru Jill Barker's tuesday fitness column looked at getting started outside in the spring.

Tip one: don't overdo it, build the mileage gradually, 50 km rides might seem like a moderate and easy distance, but not if the last one was in September and you're riding with some less-eager types.

The next tip is to ride safe: keep good situational awareness and be careful at intersections (this may involve stopping).

The whole article can be read at this link, and do it soon because the gazoo only keeps the Ms Barker's 3 most recent columns. We book mark her column and read them every week, because the information is always good quality.

Monday, March 30, 2009

L'Assomption explorations

Our new map of L'Assomption

One of our 2009 goals for our cycling explorations is to get to know the area northeast from Montreal. One area is the MRC of L'Assomption.

We picked up a bike route map at the Expovelo and the map, when we opened it up, gave us some very warm and happy feelings inside. so this ride is added to the destination agenda.

It can be hard to pick a new area to ride and also choose a good cycling route for these initial explorations. We love maps and guidebooks, they give us a way to get introduced to the region, and also (we hope) have rides on good roads!

This area is right next door to Montreal island, and we thought we should know a lot more about it than we do now. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

rainy sunday, plan B is orchidexpo 2009

With a seriously bleak and grey rainy sunday weather, we chose to do the cheer-ourselves-up with flower viewing at the 2009 Orchidexpo (at cegep maisonneuve near the Big O and musée chateau dufresne.)

One of us was hesitant, but the variety and audacity of these flowers made converts of us all. There were probably a thousand different orchids, with every shape, size, and color imaginable.

Powerscourt covered bridge

Forests and fields and farms and rivers, and geese

A nice easy fun ride on great roads

the leaning barn of dewittville

some of today's thousand geese

very old rock wall, built by hand

The double arch design is visible

Powerscourt's covered bridge, built in 1861

We finally got to the Powerscourt covered bridge this year. Our rides recently had taken us to the next town, but today we got to the bridge itself.

The pont Percy covered bridge is the only one in southwest quebec. It crosses the Chateauguay river just north of the US border. And there is a great sundeck on the cement foundation on the east side of the bridge. Sunday was a day that was perfect for a sundeck.

We rode there from Ormstown southwest on Gore Road, and Ridge road into Athelstan, then south to Powerscourt, where we u-turned and rode along the Chateauguay river for the ride back to Ormstown, crossing to the north side of the river at Dewittville.

Coming home we saw thousands of geese, some were coming in for a landing on the Chateauguay river.

Snacked on grease at Gregoire in Ste-Martine and ate on the picnic tables down by the river at the dam. The picnic tables down by the dam situation is a good thing.

Here is the link to the map of the ride at Bikely. Total distance was about 50 km, mostly flat with a bit of light rolling hills.

Note: if you are using the "Monteregie road bike map" for spatial reference, you need to know that Athelstan is labeled Hichinbrooke on this map.

There are many variations to this basic route, giving a range of ride distances anywhere from 10 to 150 km. C'est vrai.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Cote Ste-Catherine bike path report

We have been taking a section of Cote Ste-Catherine road bike path and we think it is a positive contribution to bike transportation safety in Montreal, and a big addition to creating a bike path corridor north of the geographic obstacle of Mont Royal. Geographic obstacle? Hey, we still love you Mont Royal.

This path turns east at Villeneuve (one street south of boul. St-Joseph). The city installed some much-needed stop lights at this corner. Continuing on Villeneuve you connect to a whole bunch of bike paths through the Plateau. And the secret is... it's all downhill riding when you turn on Villeneuve.

We would like to report a few facts about Cote Ste-Catherine bike path.

1) The bike path is NOT officially finished.

2) The quality of the road surface is very poor. We are hoping for repaving. Cote Ste-Catherine in general has very bad asphalt and they did not repave when the built the path last fall. We hope the city will repave it, because it's a bloody mess.

3) We have not noticed any bike-specific intersection lights.

4) Cyclists do not stop for red lights. (Aieee!)

This is a BIG improvement in the context of a true city-wide network. A uninterupted bike path route north of Mont Royal does not yet exist, but this is a big step towards that goal.

Safe cycling everybody!

Your exploration this weekend

short doorstep ride: cross the pont Jacques Cartier bridge, and explore the other side.

Country ride (one hour car drive): We're heading for some more Chateauguay valley riding, ormstown to powerscourt, and some kind of variation home. The triangle-shape of this region makes for lots of variety, in both the route and the distance. Our only advice is to avoid the numbered highways, they're for cars, but that leaves lots of good roads for cycling. Good smooth roads too.

Montreal bike path season - opens April 1

In the way back from the CCA (FIFA art film festival watching The last wright ([hotel]) and copenhagen's new Royal Theatre) we used the mostly good de Maisonneuve bike path to cross downtown. We like this bike path, although we have to adopt a certain cautious eye for many human and automotive obstacles.

We also noticed that our city's bike paths are receiving a clean up in anticipation of the official bike season-opening of April 1.

If we dared announce anything, we'd announce... Let the active transportation season begin!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Nice interactive map of Eastern Townships bike paths and circuits

Here is a link to a very nice interactive map of Eastern Townships bike paths and bike-ride circuits.

The Eastern Townships... I call it by its other name: heaven.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Destination: Mont St-Hilaire

Not the warmest day, but at least it was above zero

Chambly Canal: closed for winter

The dam at Chambly

Mont St-Hilaire, our rockiest local hill, bike path on bridge too!

Old Fort at Chambly on Richelieu river

Today's ride is the circuit "#5 Circuit des chutes du Richelieu" from the Monteregie region's Road bike circuits map. This will take us from Richelieu/Chambly for a ride near Rougemont and Mt St-Hilaire mountains. We might not go up to the St-Julie northern part of the ride cuz we want a bit of a shorter distance ride, so we will cross the river at St-Hilaire to Beloeil.

And as usual, we have a crack of noon departure time. Gotta go!

Result, it was a little windy (30 km/h!) and cooler than saturday, but roads were generally good and we stopped for a Tim coffee and donut(s... oink - usually our rides are far away from corporate food chain civilization) mid ride before crossing the Richelieu river to St-Hilaire. Views were very nice, we liked this ride. A moderate 50 km distance.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Destination Riviere Truite

Lots of sunshine and big old trees

The Trout river

Goosefest 09 on the Chateauguay

The round barn on gore road

We went out around the Chateauguay Valley today in a counter clockwise direction, the first time for this year. We went out NW of huntingdon then west over to the Trout river and back via Athelstan and Gore road.

Highlights include sunny and non-cold weather, new terrain around Trout River, the round barn on Gore road, and the excellent tailwind on the return part of the ride.

It was a great ride and considering we are march, it wasn't actually cold.

Back in Montreal...

Back in Montreal we went to the FIFA films at the ONF

Friday, March 20, 2009

Crossing downtown: the high road and the low road

Went to the CCA tonight for FIFA films, went over by the "high road" Ave des Pins and Cedar (I overshot a bit on purpose) and came down Mt Pleasant. Views were good and the hill climb past the Royal Vic and Mtl General hospitals are beneficial.

Came back via de Maisonneuve path, Mcgill & ghetto, and parc avenue path, a surprising 93% on bike path.

I much preferred the high road, less cars and pedestrians and cyclists to interfere with a safe & long life.

Saw FIFA films on Alvar Aalto's Villa Mareo in Finland and the very new Norway opera house.

This was an active transport evening.

Beautiful weekend ahead!.

We suggest you take advantage of the beautiful weekend weather with a bike ride.

Get out of the city! Go out to the beautiful Quebec countryside.

Our early season favorite is the to cross the Pont Mercier bridge and ride in the chateauguay valley along the chateauguay river and south to the US border. Anywhere between St-Martine and Huntingdon is a good starting point, then ride an out and back along the river or a loop ride along the river and south to Covey hill at the US border.

See my bikely maps (link) for some ride ideas.


I rode my bike to work again today and I dressed a bit warmer because it was a bit colder outside. The skill is matching the temperature the the conditions ten minutes after you start, because you have warmed up and if you over dress. you sweat.

I also rode harder today, so I was a sweating a lot arriving at work, and for a few minutes afterward, even when I got to my desk after I changed.

If you need any ideas for the next week, we suggest the FIFA film festival. This is the Festival of films on art. We would give it a solid two thumbs up, except a racer told us once to NEVER take our hands off the handle bars.

This is my favorite film festival, and it's like having cable tv (which we don't have), since these movies often go on to live on cable specialty channels.

Spring is a couple of hours old. Only 90 days until summer!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Commuting to work - on bike

The season of active transport has begun. Our mile-end to St-Laurent commute starts at 6:45 and ends at 7:12, and today ended just as the sun was rising over the horizon.

Happy Spring everybody, and good luck on your bike commutes this year.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pont Jacques Cartier bridge open for 2009

Spring has sprung... We know because the Pont Jaques Cartier bridge will open for bikes on Wednesday March 18...


We Montrealers can leave the island for the south shore and beyond. Can summer be far behind?

The Montreal bike paths are scheduled to open on April 1, which we can wait for (translation: which we have to wait for before we get safe cycling routes from the city). Last year there was too much snow to open on April 1, and the city was too cheap to use snow removal equipment to clean them to open on schedule.

Here is a link to the most recent bike map of Montreal (pdf, may 2008, includes Laval and the south shore). There will be a May 2009 map available in a couple of months.

Go here for more information from Velo Quebec on cycling in Montreal. This is the french link but the info is on their website in english too.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Short trips: Mont St-Gregoire

On the St-Gregoire summit looking north to St-Hilaire and Rougemont

St-Gregoire is the smallest of the collines Monteregiennes, but quite rocky!

We need one of these things on Mt Royal!

The Panarama deck, we'll be back!

Lots of Sugar Shacks around St-Gregoire

The Gazette travel writer David Johnston had a feature in the Saturday Gazette travel section on the travel sector of our Quebec economy. There had been a conference, and he spoke to some people about tourism here in Quebec. Comments were aligned along the thought that when people have recession on the brain, they take trips and vacations closer to home. Closer to home was defined as 120 km away, with a longer sector being to 320 km.

Montreal is blessed with lots of good things within 120 km.

Need proof? Yesterday's bike ride through the chateauguay valley.

Need more proof? Today we went through the Richelieu valley with a tour between Richelieu (beside Chambly) to Mont St-Gregoire.

This Richelieu valley/Mont St-Gregoire exploration was based on a map we got from Bikely. We added to the adventure with a hike up to the top of Mont St-Gregoire at the CIME parking. There was a $3 entry fee and it was well-worth it.

The weather was absolutely picture-perfect, a better day was not had anywhere on the planet.

We encourage everyone to visit the best province and nation in Canada and the world, our wonderful Quebec.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Another great Chateauguay valley ride

A little brick church announces we are in Athelstan

A flat, the cursed rear wheel strikes again

Riding into perfect spring skies

Don't cross that yellow line!

Round Church (oops, Barn!) on Ridge road

We took advantage of the the nice spring weather for a ride on the backroads of the Chateauguay valley, parking the car 59 km from Place Bonaventure.

We road from Ormstown to Athelstan on the 3rd Concession, Gore, and Ridge road. THen it was south to Powerscourt to see the river and the covered bridge.

Then we came all the way home by following the chateauguay river, crossing over the river at Dewittvile.

This route was semi-forested going west (in to the wind) and wide open for the ride back, we managed the winds well. The roads were generally very good condition.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Springtime bikes

Winter might be over. Woohoo.

Some outdoor bikes survived.

Some didn't.

Amazingly the tube is still inflated

For more mangled bikes, go to the montreal mangles bikes website.

Winter can be so hard on a bike

A classic CCM ready to roll for another year

This one survived pretty well, but still frozen to the ground

another ice-bound antique waiting for the end of subzero

Another sign that spring is here: the sidewalk-riding A-hole.

It's... a bleeping bleep bleep of a bleep.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

We investigate bikes on VIA trains

To gather information on our quest to visit the Acadien peninsula in new Brunswick, we posted a question about traveling with bikes on the VIA trains on the Velocia cycling forum.

You can read the many responses here.

Update: Quebec's Espaces outdoor magazine had a big feature on taking the train. Read more at the electronic edition (page 32) here.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

First country ride of 2009

The river and road are quite close and friendly.

Tourism map kiosk at Ormstown IGA mall

The Bert at the dep in Athelstan

First ride of the year, and the first flat of the year. This wheel is jinxed.

Chateauguay river: is it the best ride within one-hours drive of Montreal?

March signals the end of winter and offers us some nice spring conditions. Sometimes. So we take advantage of the good weather when we can, like today.

The Chateauguay river is always a nice ride, today was warm(ish) and had gentle winds. We parked in Ormstown and rode the quiet roads along the Chateauguay river. We went upriver past dewittville (changed sides of the river to the south side), then to Huntingdon (where we fixed a flat) and finally to Athelstan. The road takes a turn due south and there are great views of the river and Covey hill. We got some food at the general store in Athelstan, then came back on the Lost Nation, Gore, and Tullochgorum roads back to Ormstown. Concluson: roads were in good shape, the weather was friendly, and it was an excellent start to 2009.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

strange things on craigslist

Craigslist's bike ads has 4 (count'em: four) très high-end Specialized mountain bikes today.

Is this just an unusual coincidence or some sort of apocalyptic warning?

We can't decide, just like we can't decide if any of these tasty bikes is a good replacement for our just-sold mountain bike.

...and now they're gone.

more reading

FYI we read these blogs, some are cycling, some are Montreal, some are fun.

veloptimum.net/nouvelles bikes
www.velocia.ca/forums bikes
Gazoo's ontwowheels bikes
www.bikely.com bikes
www.adsvmq.org bikes
www.allezy.net bikes
montreal.en.craigslist.ca/bikes bikes
chowhound.chow.com/boards montreal
www.sdvmag.com bikes
roadbikerider.com bikes

Here's a list of montreal links from Bicycletterie JR
Vélo Québec's city bike map (PDF)
Cyclo Nord-Sud
Right To Move - La Voie Libre
On Two Wheels - Montreal Gazette cycling blog
Momentum Magazine
Urban Velo
McGill Cycling
Montréal à Vélo
Critical Mass Montreal
Craigslist - Montréal - Bikes
Quixote Hand Tailored Steel Bicycles - fait à Montréal
Cycle Fun Montréal
Rouler à vélo

Plateau Mont Royal's new plan d'emplacement transport plan

The report promised improvements for pedestrians, school children, residential streets, bicycles, buses, the metro, car-sharing, taxis, bixi, everyone except our old friend the automobile.

We took a look through the plan today and we are impressed (and skeptical) that the relentless 2% increase in car use every year can be halted and reversed.

The report had a big list of actions that the arrondissement of P-M-R is undertaking.

The ones that interested us include improved bicycle parking at metro stations (and all over), a better bicycle path network, and slower traffic speed limits.

We'll look at it in detail later. It's time to cook supper. The fridge has been refilled with food and we must investigate this first.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Velodrome for Montreal?

Since the disgraceful closing of Montreal's Olympic Velodrome and it's subsequent conversion into an indoor zoo, this city has a need for an indoor velodrome.

La Presse's Jean-François Bégin in Sunday's paper calls for a replacement. Finally!

Read the article here. (french)

In other Montreal Olympic facilities gone to waste news, the RDS TV sports network offers some tips on how other cities (allo Vancouver?) can avoid Montreal's example of the complete failure to benefit Montreal citizens (and the nation) with the shiny new sports facilities left over after the Olympics leaves town. (hint: don't convert them in to a zoo).